August 23, 2005

Mom of Michael Jackson’s accuser charged with fraud

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The mother of the teenage boy who
accused Michael Jackson of sex abuse was charged with welfare
fraud on Tuesday by prosecutors who said she lied about her
finances when she applied for public assistance.

The woman, who was called a liar and a welfare cheat by
Jackson's attorneys as they successfully defended the pop star
at his child molestation trial this summer, faces arrest if she
fails to surrender by September 7, prosecutors said.

"These charges are the result of a very careful
investigation of allegations that she basically lied to receive
aid," Los Angeles County District Attorney's spokeswoman Sandi
Gibbons said. "We felt the evidence was sufficient to file
these counts.

The charges stem from information the woman provided to
welfare officials and do not relate to her testimony at the
Jackson trial, which ended when the 46-year-old entertainer was
cleared by a jury in June.

The mother of three could face more than five years in
prison if she is convicted on all five counts of perjury and
seeking aid by misrepresentation.

William Dickerman, an attorney who represented the woman at
the time her son made the accusations against Jackson in 2003,
could not immediately be reached for comment.

The mother of three was called to the witness stand in that
case by Santa Barbara County prosecutors, but refused to
testify about her finances or welfare applications on the
grounds that doing so could incriminate her.

Prosecutors say the mother of three, whose name has been
withheld by most U.S. news organizations to protect her son's
identity, defrauded the welfare system out of more than $18,000
by lying about her assets.

Court documents filed with the charges say the
investigation was prompted by a tip from a private investigator
in February 2005, shortly after jury selection began in the
Jackson trial. But Gibbons said her office did not pursue the
case because of her involvement in that matter.

"We have a whole division devoted to filing these types of
cases," Gibbons said. "(Someone) may say $18,000 is not a lot
of money, but this is the taxpayers' money and it's supposed to
go to people who can't afford to care for themselves or their